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Biographies of Current and Past Performers

Dr. Zahari Metchkov

Both a pianist and an organist, Dr. Zahari Metchkov has performed at such venues as New York’s Avery Fisher Hall and Washington’s Kennedy Center. He has concertized in Israel, Bulgaria, and the United States. Dr. Metchkov released his first CD in 2008 ¬- a recording of works for piano and orchestra by Franz Liszt and Cesar Franck. Native of Sofia, Bulgaria, Dr. Metchkov holds BM in piano and organ performance, MM in piano performance, and DMA in piano performance with a minor in music theory from the Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland, Ohio. In 2010 he joined Colorado State University-Pueblo’s department of music in the capacity of Assistant Professor of Music, teaching applied piano, piano related courses, as well as music theory. Dr. Metchkov has also taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music as well as Youngstown State University. He directed the Cleveland based Ensemble Secundum Silentium, serves as an artistic adviser for the San Angelo Piano Festival, and in May 2009 co-directed the Youngstown State University Intensive Piano Workshop. Currently Dr. Metchkov is the Artistic Director of the Pueblo Keyboard Arts Festival and Piano Conversations Concert Series, Pueblo, as well as Rocky Mountain Music Alliance Concert Series, Colorado Springs. As a performer he has appeared in the Mostly Mozart Music Festival, Pianofest in the Hamptons, Bridgehampton Music Festival, Geneva Chamber Music Festival, New Year’s Music Days Festival, and San Angelo Piano Festival. He has appeared live on radio CPR-Denver, WCLV-Cleveland, Bulgarian National Radio, Radio Alma Mater-Sofia. Dr. Metchkov has been enjoying an active artistic life as a soloist, chamber artist, as well as church musician. He has been a guest artist with the Pueblo Symphony, Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, Colorado State University-Pueblo Wind Ensemble, Suburban Symphony, University Circle Chorale, University Circle Wind Ensemble, and Pleven Philharmonic. Besides music, he also enjoys skiing and is steadily working on climbing Colorado’s fifty-four 14ers.

Dr. Michael Baron

An award-winning concert pianist, Michael Baron performs over 40 concerts each year, including annual tours of Europe and engagements throughout the United States, Asia, and South America. Equally at home as a recitalist, a soloist with orchestra, and a chamber musician, Baron commands a diverse repertoire, ranging from Baroque compositions to world premieres of contemporary pieces. His virtuosity and musicianship regularly garner the highest critical acclaim. Baron received his doctorate in Piano Performance from The Ohio State University where he studied with the legendary American pianist Earl Wild. He also worked extensively in Italy with the renowned pianist Orazio Frugoni.Dr. Baron serves as Professor of Music and Head of Keyboard Studies at the Bower School of Music at Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers, Florida. He is also Honorary Professor of Music at Yantai University and Hubei University in the People’s Republic of China. A distinguished educator, Baron has presented masterclasses and workshops at schools, festivals, and universities throughout the world. He regularly serves as a jurist on regional, national, and international piano competitions.

An acclaimed master teacher, Dr. Baron’s students regularly win competitions throughout the United States and abroad. He is a popular teacher and presenter for teacher groups. Baron is the director of summer music festivals in Italy and was the initial Artistic Director Emeritus of the Rocky Mountain Music Alliance Concert Series in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Geoff Herd

Violinist Geoffrey Herd is currently pursuing his doctoral studies at Rice University as a student of Paul Kantor. He holds an Artist Diploma from Yale University, studying with Ani Kavafian. In May 2010 he received a Master’s of Music degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music as a student of William Preucil, concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra. Mr. Herd also received a Bachelor of Music degree in 2008 from the Cleveland Institute of Music as a student of David Updegraff. He has performed concertos with numerous orchestras including the Rochester Philharmonic, the Ithaca College Symphony, and the Finger Lakes Symphony. An avid chamber musician, Mr. Herd has studied chamber music with members of the Cleveland, Guarneri, Juilliard, Ying, Tokyo and Cavani String Quartets. Mr. Herd has attended numerous prestigious music festivals including the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, Encore School for Strings and the New York String Orchestra Seminar where he was Principal Second Violin. During the summers of 2008 – 2010 he received a fellowship to study at the Aspen Music Festival for nine weeks each summer with Paul Kantor. Previously, Mr. Herd was a member of the first violin section of the Canton Symphony Orchestra and in September 2010 joined the violin section of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. Devoted to educating the next generation of classical musicians, he was also a teaching assistant to David Updegraff at the Cleveland Institute of Music from 2008-2010. In addition, Mr. Herd is the founder and director of the Geneva Music Festival in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

Dr. Michael Schneider


Critics have hailed Michael Schneider as “a pianist with exceptional insight” and a “performer with great panache” in performances across the states and overseas to Poland and France. Recently championing the music of Franz Liszt, Michael was awarded the ‘Demonic Liszt’ Prize at the Competition Internationale held in Sante Fe, New Mexico and won six awards at the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, including first prize in the Concerto Division and first prize in the Longer Work Category (Dante Sonata). In 2005, he was the 4th prize winner in the 3rd International Franz Liszt Competition held in Wroçlaw, Poland. In May 2008, Michael performed Liszt’s Dante Sonata in the Library of Congress (Washington DC) for the American Liszt Society Annual Festival.

Mr. Schneider has performed in such venues as the legendary château of George Sand in Nohant, France, performing an all-Chopin recital as a guest artist in the International Chopin Festival, and Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall as a prizewinner of the Frinna Awerbuch International Piano Competition, also winning the prize for the best performance of a work by an American composer. Recently he was a featured guest artist at the Music Festival of the Hamptons, directed by Lukas Foss. In the ’07-’08 season, Michael performed the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Irving New Philharmonic Orchestra, the Poulenc Concerto for Two Pianos with the UT University Orchestra, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F with the San Angelo Symphony. Other concerto appearances have been with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (IL), the Richardson Symphony Orchestra (TX), the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra (OK), the Harding University Orchestra (AK), and the Big Spring Symphony (TX).

Mr. Schneider is a laureate of many international piano competitions, including the 10th Pacific Piano Competition in Vancouver, the 7th San Antonio International Piano Competition, the 4th International Paderewski Piano Competition held in Poland, the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition in New York, the Texas Steinway Society Career Development Award, and the Grace Welsh Prize for Piano in Chicago.

Mr. Schneider’s love for unusual works takes shape in many forms. In 2004, he brought the little-known Piano Concerto by Jules Massenet to Oklahoma as a guest artist of the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra, home of the summer OK Mozart Festival. As a devotee of the music of Ignaz Jan Paderewski, Mr. Schneider brings this music to a variety of venues. At the 8th Annual Paderewski Festival in California, his performance of the grueling Paderewski Sonata prompted three standing ovations and three encores. Other recent projects include performances of the Schubert Trout Quintet at the Palace Theatre in Grapevine, a solo concert of the works of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and collaborative performances with violinist Jun Iwasaki (now concertmaster of the Portland Symphony Orchestra) and violinist Frank Almond (concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony).

Michael is the creator and artistic director of the San Angelo Piano Festival (SAPF), a classical music festival in West Texas with an emphasis on the piano repertoire. Annual events include guest artist recitals, impromptu musicales, a composition contest, and a young artist program that includes a competition, master classes and a showcase recital. The 5th Festival took place in April 2009 and plans are underway for the 6th festival in March 2010.

Mr. Schneider is an audience favorite at Pianofest in the Hamptons, an eight-week festival that he attended for seven summers. In the Hamptons, he has played for renowned teachers Arie Vardi, Veda Kaplinsky, Paul Schenly, and Van Cliburn silver-medalist Antonio Pompa Baldi. In 2004, Mr. Schneider was a Master Class Fellow in the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, where he performed for Piotr Anderszewski and Angela Hewitt. He has also performed in master classes for Maria Curcio, Claude Frank, and Peter Frankl.

Mr. Schneider spent two years as adjunct Professor of Piano at Youngstown State University in Ohio, and also as adjunct at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in the fall of 2010. He received his Doctorate of Musical Arts Degree in piano performance at the University of Texas in Austin where he studied with Professor Anton Nel as a recipient of the Joe and Teresa Long Scholarship and William Race Memorial Scholarship.

Filip Fenrych, Violinist

The 2005 First Prize and Gold Medal winner of Crescendo Music Awards and Entergy Young Texas Artist Competition, Filip Fenrych began playing violin at the age of six in Gorzow Wielkopolski, Poland. At thirteen he won the Wielkopolski Violin Competition in Poznan, which awarded him performances in Poland and Luxembourg. His concerto debut at the age of fourteen took place in Germany, when he appeared as a soloist with Frechen Symphony Orchestra performing Wieniawski Concerto No. 2.
 
In 1995 Filip Fenrych was awarded the World Youth Symphony Scholarship to participate in the Interlochen Arts Camp and a full tuition scholarship to attend the Interlochen Arts Academy to begin his studies with Julia Bushkova. During his years at IAA he was twice awarded the Fine Arts Award, served as a Concertmaster for the IAA Symphony Orchestra, and performed recitals throughout the state of Michigan.
 
In 1999 Mr. Fenrych received an International Grant in addition to the full tuition scholarship to study at Oberlin College Conservatory in Ohio.  The same year he was a winner of Fletcher Foundation Award of North Carolina School of the Arts and a recipient of the Virtu Foundation Scholarship Grant. As a member of Massanetto String Quartet, he participated in a weeklong residency at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. performing on “Ole Bull” Stradivarius from the Axelrod collection. His teachers were Almita and Roland Vamos, Saint-Petersburg String Quartet, and Gregory Fulkerson.
 
In 2001, Filip Fenrych resumed his studies with Julia Bushkova, now at the University of North Texas. There he was a Concertmaster of both UNT Symphony and Chamber orchestras. As a Concerto Competition winner, he performed Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the UNT Symphony Orchestra. His outstanding performance of the “Ein Heldenleben” by Richard Strauss was broadcast nationally on HDTV.  On numerous occasions he performed with the Faculty Chamber ensembles both in Texas and in the International Chamber Music Festival “Perche No?” in Italy. His performance in the “Russian Nights” concert (Dallas) was broadcast on WRR 101 FM and positively reviewed in the “Dallas Morning News.” His solo performances in the prestigious festivals “The Music Academy of the West” (Santa Barbara, CA) and International School of Musical Arts in Ontario, Canada, were broadcast on regional and national public radio stations. During this time he received guidance from Kathleen Winkler (MAW) and Victor Danchenko (ISMA, Canada) and performed in the master classes with William Preucil, Midori, Vladimir Landsman, the Juilliard and Tokyo String Quartets.
 
In summer 2005 Mr. Fenrych was one of eight violinists chosen internationally to participate in the famous Taos School of Music, where his coaches were Robert McDonald, Takacs, Vermeer, and Borromeo String Quartets. In the fall of 2005, he began his Master studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music under Maestro William Preucil, the Concertmaster of Cleveland Orchestra. 
 
In 2006 Mr. Fenrych won the Principal Second Violin position in the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra, Verbier, CH. He has participated in the VFO and in its worldwide tours ever since.  
 
The 2005 First Prize and Gold Medal winner of Crescendo Music Awards and Entergy Young Texas Artist Competition, Filip Fenrych began playing violin at the age of six in Gorzow Wielkopolski, Poland. At thirteen he won the Wielkopolski Violin Competition in Poznan, which awarded him performances in Poland and Luxembourg. His concerto debut at the age of fourteen took place in Germany, when he appeared as a soloist with Frechen Symphony Orchestra performing Wieniawski Concerto No. 2.
 
In 1995 Filip Fenrych was awarded the World Youth Symphony Scholarship to participate in the Interlochen Arts Camp and a full tuition scholarship to attend the Interlochen Arts Academy to begin his studies with Julia Bushkova. During his years at IAA he was twice awarded the Fine Arts Award, served as a Concertmaster for the IAA Symphony Orchestra, and performed recitals throughout the state of Michigan.
 
In 1999 Mr. Fenrych received an International Grant in addition to the full tuition scholarship to study at Oberlin College Conservatory in Ohio.  The same year he was a winner of Fletcher Foundation Award of North Carolina School of the Arts and a recipient of the Virtu Foundation Scholarship Grant. As a member of Massanetto String Quartet, he participated in a weeklong residency at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. performing on “Ole Bull” Stradivarius from the Axelrod collection. His teachers were Almita and Roland Vamos, Saint-Petersburg String Quartet, and Gregory Fulkerson.
 
In 2001, Filip Fenrych resumed his studies with Julia Bushkova, now at the University of North Texas. There he was a Concertmaster of both UNT Symphony and Chamber orchestras. As a Concerto Competition winner, he performed Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the UNT Symphony Orchestra. His outstanding performance of the “Ein Heldenleben” by Richard Strauss was broadcast nationally on HDTV.  On numerous occasions he performed with the Faculty Chamber ensembles both in Texas and in the International Chamber Music Festival “Perche No?” in Italy. His performance in the “Russian Nights” concert (Dallas) was broadcast on WRR 101 FM and positively reviewed in the “Dallas Morning News.” His solo performances in the prestigious festivals “The Music Academy of the West” (Santa Barbara, CA) and International School of Musical Arts in Ontario, Canada, were broadcast on regional and national public radio stations. During this time he received guidance from Kathleen Winkler (MAW) and Victor Danchenko (ISMA, Canada) and performed in the master classes with William Preucil, Midori, Vladimir Landsman, the Juilliard and Tokyo String Quartets.
 
In summer 2005 Mr. Fenrych was one of eight violinists chosen internationally to participate in the famous Taos School of Music, where his coaches were Robert McDonald, Takacs, Vermeer, and Borromeo String Quartets. In the fall of 2005, he began his Master studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music under Maestro William Preucil, the Concertmaster of Cleveland Orchestra. 
 
In 2006 Mr. Fenrych won the Principal Second Violin position in the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra, Verbier, CH. He has participated in the VFO and in its worldwide tours ever since.